Horsham District Council provides services to more than 140,000 residents across a picturesque rural part of West Sussex that’s consistently recognised as one of the UK’s most desirable places to live.
The council was using a legacy financial management solution which was old-fashioned and didn’t allow other parts of the business to understand or act on financial data.
“Other departments relied on finance to input the information and use that information. We were working in silos and not talking to each other,” said Dominic Bradley, Head of Finance at Horsham District Council.
Horsham District Council wanted to upgrade its technology solution and platform and empower staff to tackle high-level tasks by automating manual processes.
“The old system was heavy on data entry: 80 per cent of people’s time was spent punching in numbers, and only 20 per cent was spent actually looking at what those numbers mean,” Bradley said.
“We wanted to get out of this culture and spend time challenging the numbers, to get value out of the data and add value to the process.”
Horsham District Council wanted to simplify and transform its financial management processes and adopt a fully integrated solution that’s easy to use.
“Our goal was to modernise, automate and change the culture from heads-down keying in data to heads-up talking to each other,” Bradley said.
After a competitive tender process, the council decided to implement TechnologyOne’s OneCouncil SaaS solution.
OneCouncil is a preconfigured solution that supports the day-to-day operational and strategic requirements of councils in a single integrated solution that's fast and cost-effective to implement.
“We chose an enterprise solution because it ensures we’ve got all the data in one place and we can use it in several ways,” he said.
The council said TechnologyOne satisfied the requirements of its procurement process, but was also the most intuitive and accessible solution considered.
“TechnologyOne won the competitive evaluation and as we were going through the tender process and seeing the alternatives, it was also the most appealing in terms of the user experience.”
Bradley added: “Initially our priority focused on the finance team, but actually it’s as important that the wider council adopt and easily use it, and we felt confident TechnologyOne’s solution delivered on this.”
Moving to TechnologyOne’s OneCouncil SaaS solution has transformed the way Horsham District Council operates, streamlining and automating once manual processes.
“I don’t think we would have progressed this far and changed the cultural habits had we not made the decision to move to TechnologyOne,” Bradley said.
“We’re invoicing 30,000 or so garden waste collection invoices through the system, and have all 400 employees using self-service for booking annual leave and sick leave.
“Because the system has replaced more of the old-fashioned spreadsheet work, we have reduced the size of the accountancy department and therefore made cost savings.”
“I feel much more confident in the data we’re producing. I trust the information that's coming out of TechnologyOne much more than the old system,” Bradley said.
“We get more time to review, evaluate and change things. It helps you to question ‘why are we doing this, and how can we improve it?’”
Bradley said working with TechnologyOne to both purchase and implement the solution made the council’s transformation easier.
“With some providers, during the tender process, we felt there was often pushback about what the system could do and how they would do it,” he said.
“With TechnologyOne, it was more collaborative: we’d talk about how to best do something, lay out the options, see what worked best in the circumstances and within the system—it felt a lot more agreeable to us.
“Also, being able to go directly to the implementation team means you can have that conversation much quicker and it’s not lost in translation.”
SaaS is the future. We didn't want servers in our own building. We wanted to shift that responsibility to the software vendor.
The project’s success has triggered further consolidation of systems and modernisation plans.
“The finance team has led the way within the Council because we were the first to move from an on-premise system to SaaS and work in a more agile way,” Bradley said.
Becoming ‘a modern and flexible council’ is one of five key goals outlined in Horsham Council’s corporate plan 2019-2023.
“The council has seen that it works, and the IT strategy has caught up—we want to move more of our current systems to SaaS in the future,” Bradley said.
“From my point of view, the fewer systems, the easier it is. Because it's all under one roof, you don't have issues with integration and data transferring backwards and forwards.”
Bradley said that while changing systems was a ‘big upheaval’, the process has helped future-proof Horsham District Council.
“The benefits we're seeing now shows that it’s worth that pain. When it's done in the right way, and with the right system, you get the right results at the end of it,” he said.
“Through my role as the UK Local Government User Group Chair, I’m confident that TechnologyOne will continue to collaborate and ensure our solution evolves to meet the future requirements of the industry.”
TechnologyOne’s high performing SaaS platform means the Horsham District Council no longer has to worry about the complexity of running or updating its financial management software and infrastructure, as TechnologyOne takes care of this.
With TechnologyOne managing the SaaS environment including support and twice-yearly system updates, Horsham District Council has benefited from greater reliability and a reduced burden on its IT team.
“SaaS is the future. We didn't want servers in our own building. We wanted to shift that responsibility to the software vendor,” Bradley said.
“Our IT team no longer has to worry about system maintenance and upgrades: it’s now the responsibility of a bigger organisation that’s trained and can react more quickly.”
Horsham District Council is also experiencing the benefits of any time, anywhere, any device working.
“People have more flexibility to work at home when they need to, rather than have to be in the office in a traditional nine-to-five way,” Bradley said.
“There's certainly been a cultural change. People are working in a different, more agile way.”
Bradley said business continuity in the face of the COVID-19 crisis was another huge benefit of TechnologyOne’s SaaS solution.
“We made a strategic decision to move to SaaS for a number of reasons, none of which included managing through a pandemic. We wanted a platform that would allow us to increase the services we provide to our communities and enable us to operate more efficiently,” he said.
“We knew it would also allow us to be more resilient to disruption. But no one could have anticipated the disruption we’ve experienced over the last few months. Through it all, we’ve been able to keep our promises to the people of Horsham and continue to play a central role in the community’s response to COVID-19.
“Using TechnologyOne helped lay the groundwork—it prepared us for COVID-19. Two or three years ago we couldn’t have suddenly uprooted the team and worked from home as easily.”
TechnologyOne’s UK SaaS Platform Director Johnathan Williamson said the company leverages the power of the Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) secure cloud services platform to deliver a world-class SaaS solution.
“Through our partnership with AWS, we are providing Horsham District Council with a secure and available architecture, the ability to rapidly scale, and a level of service that you just cannot deliver in an on-premise environment," Williamson said.
“The added bonus that the TechnologyOne SaaS Platform is designed from the ground up to enable remote-working has obviously, in hindsight, been a huge strategic benefit for Horsham as we all navigate our way towards a new way of working.”
About Horsham District Council
Horsham District Council is a local authority that provides public services to the residents and businesses of the Horsham District. Making Horsham District a great place to live, work and visit.
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ProductRead timePublish date 02 Sep 2021
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